What To Do When Questioning Your Abilities


 
Next time you question your abilities to pursue your God-given vision , consider the story of Moses:

Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Exodus 4:10-13

Moses was used of God to do incredible things for God’s glory, yet Moses, more than many leaders I know, questioned his own abilities. He lacked confidence and would have probably never volunteered for the job. His reasons might have been:

  • Past failure
  • Fear
  • The task was overwhelming
  • He was intimidated by the Asker
  • He felt unqualified

What’s your excuse for not obeying the vision God has placed in your heart? Is it really a valid reason?
Perhaps you need to do as Moses did…walk by faith, not by sight.

Planning for Sustainment Within an Organization

Yesterday I started a conversation about ministry evaluation. I was making the point that because of the rapid growth we have experienced at Grace Community Church the last 4 and half years, we may not know it if there were problems within our structure. (You can read and discuss the content of that post HERE. You probably need to read that post to understand this one.)

I think where I have landed, at least for now, is that bigger than the issue of evaluation, is the issue of continuance. The fact is that I really do believe growth is occurring in individual lives, not just in the total numbers of people. We are accomplishing our objective to “make growing disciples of Jesus Christ”. I still want to consider ways to validate that belief, and I have some ideas I’m working on there, but the key word for me now is sustainability. I want us to be able to continue doing what we’ve been doing.

This week I emailed the staff this question:

If you were to disappear, how would your ministry continue to thrive at the level it is thriving today, and even improve? What is your plan for sustainment?

My first thoughts are that as the church continues to grow we may need to learn to:

  • Delegate faster – To spread the workload
  • Broaden our information base – Get more ideas on the table…more thinkers.
  • Take even greater risks – in people and resources…
  • Prepare more leaders – Through leadership development in the church, not just among the staff.

These are just initial thoughts. It takes me weeks to work through thoughts most times. I will encourage us to discuss these thoughts as a staff in the weeks to come. Thankfully, we have an amazing team of leaders and they are better thinkers than me most days. My personal goal is to see that the energy, vision, and momentum they have brought to our church continues.

What do you think? Do you see the issues here for us as a relatively new, fast-growing organization? I would love your input. What thoughts does yesterday’s and today’s posts trigger about your organization?

How does your church or organization plan for sustainment? Or does it?

Growth Covers Over A Multitude of Problems

We have had rapid growth at Grace Community Church. I am very thankful that God has chosen to share His grace with us for such a time as this. I am in a week of reflection (Read about that HERE) and the thought occurred to me this week: You can cover over a multitude of problems in an organization with enough growth.

For example:

  • It’s more difficult to determine if people are moving from visitors to regular attendees, because we have so many new visitors coming every week.
  • It’s more difficult to tell if people are connecting to groups and serving, because new people keep coming to join groups, serve, etc.
  • It’s more difficult to tell if people are developing in their giving habits, because new people keep arriving that bring new offerings.

I am not saying we have problems in these areas or any area.  I am really saying I don’t know, even though every organization has room for improvement. What I am saying even more is that if there are problems they have most likely been disguised because of the tremendous growth we have experienced. One day the growth may not be as rapid as it is today, and we will need solutions to problems that are uncovered. I am more proactive than that. I would rather uncover the problems that may exist now and find solutions before the problems arise.

I am questioning if there is a need to find ways to evaluate our progress in reaching our core objective, which is ultimately the same as our vision, “to make growing followers of Jesus Christ”. We aren’t looking for just numeric growth, we are striving to produce people that are growing in their passion and walk with Christ.

I realize that any line of thinking that involves evaluation in a spiritual context is controversial at best, but evaluating now may help us continue to grow and stay healthy and enhance the future growth that we experience. I lean towards the thought that the church must be evaluating progress towards objectives, as any healthy organization should do.

For similar thoughts on evaluation in ministry, read HERE and HERE.

What are your thoughts on ministry evaluation? It’s okay to disagree with me. Just share your thoughts. I will share more of mine tomorrow.

If you think evaluating ministry is important, do you have any thoughts on what kinds of things we would measure?

Personal Insights Into a Conversation with God


 
This week I have been at Moody Founder’s Week in Chicago. I told my son Nate, who attends Moody, that this would be on my list of conferences while he is in school here. We had been previously, which is one of the reasons he chose the school. This is a true church conference. While it is not my typical conference, I have enjoyed hearing the challenging messages in a more traditional setting.

Getting out of town always provides me with time to develop new thoughts. Often I get into such a routine at home, that I don’t stop to just reflect, ponder, think and dream. I have to be alone, totally removed from my normal comfort zone it seems to really slow down enough to reflect. Yesterday, between sessions, I went for a long run along the Lake Shore Drive. (This is my favorite city in which to run. I posted about that once HERE.) About half way through the run, as I was talking to God, it seemed He impressed on my heart that there are new challenges He wants me to consider.

While I didn’t have a clue what this could mean at this point in our conversation, here is the prayer I prayed (as best as I can remember praying while running):

“God, I don’t want to possess a man-made vision…mine or anyone else’s. I don’t want a hand-me-down version of Your plan…I want to hear from You…I want Your vision…Your presence…Your glory. Protect my heart from wandering or being attracted to anything less than 100% of Your will… God, as You lead me, I will follow…”

It was a great heart check. The rest of the day I spent trying to unpack some of where I sense Him encouraging me to go and do. I don’t have all the answers, and from experience I may not for weeks, but I’m starting to understand some things. A couple thoughts relative to Grace Community Church I will actually share over the next couple days on this blog.  More than anything, however, I am committed to following His heart. That’s always proven to be a good thing in my life!

How do you get your heart on track with God? Do you do it with people or away from people?  Where do you go to do your best reflecting.

Please share your thoughts here for all readers to enjoy.

10 Questions with Leader Carlos Whittaker/LosWhit (Soul City Church)

Carlos Whittaker is one of the most creative and inspiring leaders in today’s church culture. Carlos also has one of the most read blogs among Christians. Carlos is an architect of visions and his current work is with the launch this Spring of Soul City Church in Chicago. (I wrote about Soul City’s Jarrett Stevens HERE.) You can follow LosWhit on Twitter HERE. His newest musical work has been at the top of iTunes since it was released a week ago. Listen and buy HERE.

Here are 10 questions with Carlos Whittaker.

1. When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

Nope, wanted to play for the Falcons baby!

2. What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

I was a roller skate prepare man, Patience.

3. Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

-My dad, he’s my dad!

4. Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

- Crucial Conversations… It was a hard read. Very boring, but has changed me and how I speak to people.

5. What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

-Creative, last minute, intense

6. What is your greatest strength in leadership?

-I can connect to people

7. What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

-procrastination.

8. What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Say no

9. What is one misconception about your position you think people in your church may have?

That we are perfect

10. If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Don’t try to imitate another leader style, as much as finding your true leadership style.

Thanks again for following these interviews. Comments are appreciated and will keep me searching for more.

An Important Experiment This Sunday with Grace Community Church

We have a great experiment this week at Grace Community Church. I’m one that chooses to look for the positive in every negative situation, so I really want to see what I can grasp from this opportunity.

Because our church meets in a school, today I had to write our first email to the church announcing that services are cancelled Sunday due to inclement weather. Here is the email:

Grace family,

Due to impending weather, Grace Community Church will not have services this Sunday, January 31, 2010. As this is written there is no snow falling, but the weather forecast is currently very threatening for our area, so the school system, in a precautionary measure, has cancelled all school activities for the weekend, which obviously impacts us. We are sorry for this inconvenience, but thankful for the advance notice and understanding of the need to protect the well-being of large numbers of people.

Please take this opportunity to enjoy some family time, rest, and spend some time reading the Bible and praying on Sunday. A few notes for those of interest:
*If you had planned to invite a friend, have them come with you next week. We will launch our new series for adults and children next week.
*If you normally give to the church or other causes we support, you may make those donations online (http://www.gcomchurch.com/give), mail them to Grace Community Church, PO Box 3136, Clarksville, TN 37043, or save them for next Sunday.
*If you have prayer needs or other items to communicate to the staff, please send them to office@gcomchurch.com
*Please pay special attention to the Grace website (http://www.gcomchurch.com) and the Grace Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/gcomchurch) for announcements you would have received Sunday. You might also want to make sure you have joined the Grace Facebook group, where we often send emails.)

Thank you for your faithfulness. Be safe and we look forward to seeing you next week.

Grace staff

Now here is the experiment. Will it make a difference? Will it matter to anyone that Grace Community Church will not meet this Sunday? Sure, it’s just one week, but what if it were every week? Would that matter to our community? Are we making enough of a difference that it would matter if we were no longer here?

What do you think? Has Grace made a difference in your life or in the lives of others you know? Please share a word, sentence, paragraph or story with us here on the blog where others may enjoy them. (If you don’t attend Grace Community Church, but want to give a shout out to the difference your church is making, feel free to share.)  Your comments will help me stay positive, because I’m really going to miss my friends at Grace this week, but will also be a blessing for others to read your stories.

Struggling With What To Say In Prayer?


 
I received a great email of concern this week on an issue I think others may have as a concern as well.  I know I have asked questions like this personally at times.

The email said, “I believe in prayer, but I never know what to say.  What if I say the wrong thing?  Does that make sense?”

Here was my answer:

Yes, it makes perfect sense, but I wonder if you are making prayer more difficult than it is intended to be.  Consider for a moment that God is the “friend who sticks closer than a brother.”  What if God were a person, who is actually in the room with you, that knows you better than anyone has ever known you, that would never betray you, so you could trust Him with anything, that loves you unconditionally whether you do the right things or not, and that always has your best interests at heart…could you talk to that person?

That’s who He is…now talk….

Do you ever struggle with what to say in your prayers? Could it be you are treating prayer as more of a religious formality than a conversation with someone with whom you have a relationship?

What tips can you offer to help others in their prayer life?    What questions about prayer do you have?

5 Principles I Have Learned About Failure (Sermon)

This past Sunday’s message was about failure. Although we had this message in the series planned for months and we spend considerable time in prayer about what to speak about each week, I never imagined how sensitive this topic would be. I have been inundated with stories this week of how failure has impacted people’s lives. (And to think I thought it was just my story…)

If you are dealing with failure, I hope you will consider watching this message.

As a teaser, here are five principles I have learned about failure:

Not everyone is talking about you….even when it feels that way…

Your identity because of the failure may never fully go away…

God loves you more than you can imagine, even when you fail…

Forgiving yourself may be the most difficult thing…

The best days of your life may be after the failure…not before…
if you allow God to shape the rest of your story…

Would you allow your story to help others? What’s one thing you have learned from failure? (Please share it as a comment on the blog, even if you are reading this on Facebook, to allow others to read your thoughts.)

The problem with desiring normal…

I talk with people consistently that are looking for some sense of normality in their life. Often they express that sentiment by saying something such as, “I just wish life could be normal for me sometime.” Have you ever said that statement?

What I have come to understand from experience is that life never rests long before some new highs or lows appear. The problem with desiring normal is that normal seldom looks like we expect normal to look. I’m wondering if normal may be more our reaction to life, than the circumstances we experience in life.

Perhaps the better goal is to learn to balance our lives amidst difficulties, good and bad times, triumph and tragedy, and the feast or famine the world in which we live tends to experience. In fact, I wonder if learning how to balance our emotions between the extremes isn’t the normality we are seeking, rather than periods where everything is calm. When we learn to live in the joy of every moment, normal may seem more attainable.  (Consider what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13)

What has your experience taught you? How would you define the “normal” life?  Is your life “normal”?

10 Questions With Leader Wayne Elsey: Soles4Souls Ministry

One would have to be living under a rock (or a shoe) not to have heard of Soles4Souls Ministry in recent months. Soles4Souls has a simple concept: they get shoes and give them away. You can read more about their history HERE. This is one ministry that went to work immediately and is making a huge impact in the Haiti disaster.

Grace Community Church recently became a collection location for the ministry, but I thought it would be good to get to know the man behind the vision.  Wayne Elsey is apparently an incredible leader.  The proof is in the growth of the ministry.  You can read more about Wayne HERE and follow him on Twitter HERE.

More importantly to Wayne, to get involved to the cause, click HERE.

Here are 10 questions with leader Wayne Elsey:

When you were growing up, is this what you thought you would be doing vocationally? If not, what did you want to do?

My goal was to get out of school, leave home and do something. I was not the best student and did not like school or my home life.

What’s the most different job you’ve had from what you are doing now and how did that job help you with what you are doing now?

When I was 12 I was the kid over the summer that did anything. The most opposite I have ever done was scoop dog poop at a dog show. Candidly, that taught me a lesson that I am not too good to do anything – I feel the same way today.

Who is one person, besides Christ, who most helped to shape your leadership and how did they help you?

One person is hard to drill down but there are two people that motivated me to excel – One was my English teacher that told me that I can do anything I wanted to, it was all up to me and that I was in control of me. This encouragement was needed and I have not forgotten. Candidly, she made a huge difference in me shaping my character and desire to succeed. Two would be Bill Hybels – I have read every book he has ever written and watched him in many settings. This guy is a firm leader that gets things done. It is one thing to talk but doing is something totally different.

Besides the Bible, what is one book that has most helped to shape your thought process in life and ministry?

Good to Great

What are three words other people would use to describe your work style/ethic?

energetic, creative, results

What is your greatest strength in leadership?

Role model – leader – I do what I expect.

What is your greatest weakness in leadership?

Too hands on

What is the hardest thing you have to do in leadership?

Empower people more. In my current role as CEO, I have to empower people and back off. I am getting better everyday about this as I develop the right people.

What is one misconception about your position you think people may have?

I have an easy job.

If you could give one piece of advice to young leaders from what you’ve learned by experience, what would it be?

Just do it. Put your mouth into action with your hands. Do not just talk but do. Work hard, work smart and surround yourself with the best people forming a great team.